Yearly Skin Exams?

Updated on May 25, 2016
R.W. asks from Flushing, NY
17 answers

I was told by a dermatologist that people should typically go for yearly skin exams. Is this really what people do? I have never went for a full skin work up before. If I go, what should I expect? Thanks

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So What Happened?

Thank you everyone for your responses. I wound up at the dermatologist because i had something on my back that i wanted checked out. I had a full skin exam as well and everything was fine. The doctor tells all her patients to come in once a year for a full skin exam because supposedly that is actually what peop should do on a yearly basis. Whether I actually do that is questionable, but I have a year to decide. Thanks again for all your responses.

Featured Answers



answers from Oklahoma City on

Well, I've only been to a dermatologist once. For a mole thing. They didn't tell me anything like that.

So, why were YOU at the dermatologist's office? Maybe he had a valid reason for telling you that you need to be examined each year. Did he see something that concerned him? That should be reviewed each year?


answers from Norfolk on

I visit the dentist twice a year.
But eye doctors and skin doctors would also like to see you just as often.
I can't be living my life seeing that many doctors that often.
Even with the co-pay the money adds up.
Eventually some day I'm going to die of something.

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answers from Santa Fe on

I am 44 and fair skinned with freckles and reddish hair. I went in for a full body skin exam 2 years ago and I will probably go again in the next year or sooner if I see any changes. My husband who is also 44 has already had a slow growing skin cancer removed from his nose (it looked like a teeny tiny sore) three years ago at age 41. My girlfriend who runs a lot outside had a skin cancer removed the year before that. my experience people start getting skin cancer showing up in their early 40s. (My FIL just passed away from a melanoma on his jawline that I'm feeling extra sensitive about this right now). I think it is a very smart idea to go get a skin exam so they have a baseline...and then go every couple years for them to check you.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

It depends on your personal history and your family history. If you are prone to moles/lesions or if there's a strong family history of cancer, or if you have had multiple major sunburns in your life, then it may make sense.

I think sometimes dermatologists have an abundance of caution, because early detection is key. Certainly treatment is easier before things advance. On the other hand, some are looking for an annual exam & business increase . I'd ask my primary care doctor, if I were you, whether it's really necessary or if he/she is already checking you and sees any reason for a specialist.

Our regular doctors check us over at our annual physicals. Good hairdressers check the scalp. If anything is suspicious, then yes, you see a dermatologist. My husband tends to get moles, so his dermatologist draws a little "map" on a silhouette of the body (front and back) and indicates where the larger moles are. The moles are measured and then at a subsequent visit then can be checked again for changes. He has had a few removed over the years. But after the last 5 years with zero changes, my husband hasn't been back. He has one now that seems larger to me, so he'll go back in to have that checked, although another doctor has already said it's non-cancerous so we aren't rushing in.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Rochester on

Your skin is the largest organ of your body, I guess I think a person should take pretty good care of it :) "The skin interfaces with the environment and is the first line of defense from external factors. For example, the skin plays a key role in protecting the body against pathogens[3] and excessive water loss.[4] Its other functions are insulation, temperature regulation, sensation, and the production of vitamin D folates." I am not a dermatologist, nor am I married to one, but I don't know that the guy is drumming up business . . . He probably thinks that people do not take skin care seriously enough. We get lots of stuff checked regularly but so many folks ignore their skin health, confusing it with "cosmetic care."

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Des Moines on

I have had a skin cancer and two uncles with yes, I go every year - and every year they biopsy something...knock on wood, nothing since the one skin cancer. But my husband never gets a skin check unless there is something unusual I see or he sees on his skin.

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answers from Beaumont on

I've never gone for one either. My bet is that few do. If they do it's because they're older and are noticing "changes" in their skin. My MIL goes a lot but she has an ultra fair complexion and was in the sun ALOT with her kids. They've also found lots of pre-cancerous moles on her.

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answers from Seattle on

I went last year as a part of my "now I'm in my 30's" tour, lol. The dr did a full body exam, checked out moles and freckles, and talked about family history. He told me to come back if I noticed any changes or in a few years. I don't have a family history of skin cancer though. If I did I'd go every year.



answers from Rochester on

Any time I'm at my doctor (even if it's a sore throat) he will ask if there are any spots on my skin that I want looked at. He does the initial exam and then will make referrals to derm.

A friend of mine who had some skin cancer removed from her shoulder (in her early 30s) gets checked every year.


answers from Dallas on

We have a strong history of skin cancer in our family, so my husband and I both go to the dermatologist every year for a full body scan. I started going two years ago when I was 43. As for what to expect, I strip down to panties and bra, and the doctor (female) checks every inch of me. She starts at my scalp, separating my hair in sections. She pulls out my bra in a tasteful way to provide as much modesty as she can and does the same with panties, but it's important for her to check everywhere. It doesn't take long. She marks on a chart any areas that she wants to watch for changes. So far my husband and I've been fine. I've watched my mom go through hell, though.



answers from Miami on

I don't really go yearly. I do go yearly for my annual physical, and at that time, I will mention (or my doctor will observe) anything that looks odd or is bothering me, like a rash, or dermatitis. He has prescribed corticosteroids for my skin issues and recommended I see a dermatologist. Two years ago, when I had a few skin tags I wanted removed, I decided to go to the dermatologist and while I was there, I asked him to have a second look at what my physician had seen/the cream he prescribed. He said what my doctor gave me was fine, and agreed with my doctor that none of my moles looked or felt abnormal and I was ok. The skin tags keep coming back (he said it is genetic), so as soon as I have a few more, I will be back to have those burned off as well. It may not be yearly, but maybe every 3-4 years. Of course, if I detect something abnormal or I disagree with my GP's findings, I may decide to return sooner than that.



answers from Boston on

My PCP does a quick check when I have my physical, which I tend to only have every 3 years or so. I'm not prone to moles though and am very fair-skinned so I would think that anything of concern would be pretty noticeable.



answers from Pittsburgh on

I go about every 3 years, which is what my dermatologist recommends for me.

When you go, they will look at your skin head to toe, and they will takes notes, and maybe even pictures, of some moles so that they have a baseline for comparison at your next checkup.



answers from Dallas on

Personally, I think he's drumming up business.

Family history of skin issues, cancer, etc.? Sure. My in laws go yearly because they have a family history of melanoma. Otherwise, no. Maybe if you're over 50 or 60. I had my FIRST dermatologist exam when I was 47. And I have no problems. And I'm not going to go every year. Maybe every 5.



answers from Kansas City on

I just went for my first one. I was in my underpants and bra, the doctor looked over my skin and moles (I am pretty freckled and moled). He found one on my back that was suspicious and numbed it right then and popped it off. No big deal. Since I have so many moles he recommended I come in once a year. There was a nurse in the room the whole time and now I don't have to worry about the one on my boob that was sort of freaking me out.



answers from Portland on

I had one done a few years ago. I had the same guy my kids see who I've talked to for years. So it was a bit funny, he just peered at me very closely - all over. It was fine. Just like you are being inspected head to toe. He didn't see anything irregular so that was that thankfully.

I only have to go back if I notice anything irregular and I'd likely bring that to my physician first where I see them more often.



answers from Philadelphia on

My parent do...I think they started in their 60's though.

They always have stuff zapped off their skin.

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